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Abstract

This article explores the media environment in Turkmenistan from a comparative perspective, analyzing periods when this Central Asian nation was ruled by President Saparmurat Niyazov and his successor Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov. It examines critical trends of the media system’s development since the early 1990s and onward based on the political culture established under the ruling of these two state leaders. The paper argues that media plays a primary role in building a cult of personality of Saparmurat Niyazov, which was further implemented and developed by the administration of Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov. A case study of the Turkmen TV channels, in particular, is focused on styles of presenting materials, the language and propaganda techniques (clichés, slogans, labels), used to promote the cult of personality. The article analyzes the behaviors of the constructors and supporters of the cult of personality using the concept of the political culture in authoritarianism. Thus, the paper outlines that with some moderate dynamics in the media system, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov continues to strictly control media – the policies established by his predecessor, who used methods of total control and censorship of all media outlets in the country.

Abstract

This paper focuses on the case analysis of the memorial to the victims of state terror – the Wall of Grief (Stena skorbi) – which was unveiled on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the November 7, 1917, coup d’état. Using this example, we have attempted to elaborate a structure for a more complex analysis of the memory of past regimes’ manifestation and to create a methodological base for their comparison. We have based our research on the discourse theory by the so-called Essex School, the social semiotics by Kress, and the procedures of the critical discourse analysis. The procedure that we have considered relevant consists of the following: (a) description of the social context in which the memorial was manifested as a piece of evidence; (b) semiotic analysis of the memorial artifact; (c) analysis of verbal practices, as well as written and spoken texts that “explained” the memorial; and (d) analysis of nonverbal practices, namely, rituals. On the basis of our case study, we have come to the conclusion that when carrying out a semiotic analysis and the analysis of verbal and nonverbal practices in the case of the Russian public discourse, it is especially relevant to pay attention not only to widening vs. narrowing of the chronological framework, generalization vs. concretization, and specification of the traumatic experience but also to the question of framing of the memorial. In regard to the semiotic analysis, the extent of indexicality is considered to be very important in the sense of the bodily connection with an element of the commemorated event that bestows “truthfulness” and authenticity on the memorial. We assume that particularly present-day Russia, where explicit attempts to reinterpret the history of the authoritarian communist state and attempts to instrumentalize the totalitarian period according to the vector of the current political direction may be seen, is a relevant object of this kind of research.

Abstract

Ricoeur’s philosophy of religion as well as his suggestion that we may consider interreligious dialogue as a specific form of linguistic hospitality has inspired many to think through the challenges of interfaith learning in a post-secular age. I am one of those scholars who have found Ricoeur a particularly helpful conversation partner as I sought to create a nonviolent and transformative space of encounter in my interreligious classroom. In this article, I elaborate on how my lived experiences as an interreligious educator have made me wonder if Ricoeur’s philosophy of religion and his plea for interreligious hospitality are not actually limiting the critical potential of interreligious education. Ricoeur’s interreligious hermeneutics strongly resonates with a modern (Protestant) understanding of religion and its implicit, normative distinction between good (mature) and bad (immature) religiosity, which to this day belongs to the sociopolitical imagination of the majority in most Western European countries (this is certainly true for the Netherlands). It has been my pedagogical experience that this distinction between good and bad religion contributes to and reinforces testimonial and hermeneutical injustice in my classroom, which results in the marginalization of some of my students, especially those whose religious practice does not fit the understanding of what religion ought to be.

Abstract

Focusing on the topic of public dialogue between religiously theistic, quasi-religious, atheistic, and non-religious citizens in a liberal democracy, this paper develops a practical strategy of dialogue in the wake of Rawls’ Political Liberalism (1993). To set the stage for a rereading of Rawls, the chief points of liberal citizenship are outlined in critical dialogue with recent literature that urges citizens to abandon liberalism. While metaphysics, religious norms, and moral visions of the good are not bracketed by liberal regimes, it is true that liberal states nonetheless attempt to remain neutral in matters of religion and worship. This may yield many worldviews incommensurable with each other. Liberalism, then, as a political order, involves a pluralism of worldviews, some religious and some not. A hermeneutics of public dialogue can enable citizens to be reconciled with, rather than escape, the pluralism born of liberalism. I suggest the point of departure for such a hermeneutic lies in the vocabulary of Rawlsian “overlapping consensus.” Reconsidered in this light, overlapping consensus can open up the prospect of dialogue among citizenry in the public square in a manner that facilitates agreement and cooperation. This is due to the fact that overlapping consensus contrasts with the idea that when one converges on a policy, one must always do so for the same reason or theoretical justification. The paper concludes with the structure of a four-way dialogue that may result from the application of this hermeneutic.

Abstract

Whereas Samuel Moyn has argued that human rights represent the last utopia, sociologist Hans Joas suggests that the modern history of human rights represents a critical alternative to the common theory of secularization understood as disenchantment (Weber). In Joas’s reading, the political and social emphasis on human rights contributes to a sacralization of the person, not only understood as utopia, but also as societal ideal. Following Durkheim, Joas understands the sacred within the society as the continuous process of refashioning the ideal society within the real society. Although acknowledging Joas’s critique of Weber, the author is more critical of his idealization of universal human rights and his affirmative genealogy of this ideal running back to the so-called Axial Age. Mjaaland argues that the normative and formative functions of human rights are better served by a suspicious genealogy of morals, taking also the problematic aspects of human rights policy into account, including its dependence on new forms of violence and cruelty. He concludes that a more modest and pragmatic understanding of human rights may therefore strengthen rather than weaken their authority and future influence.

Abstract

The article uses an adapted version of the multidimensional theory of religion to explore changes in contemporary religiosity in Central Europe, with a special focus on the Czech Republic. It asks whether there are any possible connections between the current absence of welcome of refugees, and the fact that the dominant religiosity that replaced the secularist ideology despises religious dogmas and institutions. It asks how people believing in “something”, who do not wish to define that “something” or share its vision with others, can make an informed and healthy judgment and make themselves capable of solidarity with others. The final part of the article returns to the possibilities of strengthening precisely those dimensions of religion that have been downplayed, yet without unrealistic expectations that people would move back to the form of religiosity their parents, but more often already their great-grandparents, left behind.

Abstract

This paper starts with arguing that the main reason why value pluralism has become conflictual is that it challenges people’s socio-cultural identity. The next section gives a summary of recent sociological research on socio-cultural tensions and conflicts in the Netherlands and Europe. They are closely linked to “globalization issues,” such as cosmopolitism, immigration, and cultural integration. This shows that the prediction of the modernization theory, according to which substantial socio-cultural values would be replaced by a universalist, procedural ethics, has not come true. The third section discusses the philosophical reasons of the potentially conflictual character of today’s value pluralism: the fragility of socio-cultural identity, the spread of the culture of expressive individualism and the ethics of authenticity, and the influence of the (politics of) recognition of socio-cultural differences. The fourth section discusses two philosophical responses to the conflictual character of value pluralism. First, there is Taylor’s plea for a broadening of our socio-cultural horizon and a transformation of our common standards of (value-)judgments, based on his idea of a fusion of cultural horizons. In spite of its obvious merits, Taylor underestimates the degree of cultural distance that characterizes many instances of value pluralism. Second, there is an idea of cultural hospitality, which is an application of Ricoeur’s idea of linguistic hospitality to the cultural sphere. It is more modest than Taylor’s proposal, since it recognizes the unbridgeable gap that separates different cultures and their values. Another even more modest suggestion to diminish the conflictual character of value pluralism is the virtue of tolerance, which combines the idea that I have good reasons for my value attachments with the recognition that my values are not the completion of the ideal of human existence.

Abstract

Since September 11 attacks on World Trade Center, the word “postsecularism” became a kind of key to explain the existing tension between the secular and “indifferent toward religion” Western world, and the growing religious fundamentalism. However, the existence of conflict between secular and religious worldviews and the attempts to overcome it are not new. The aim of my paper is to present a few examples of successful endeavors of worldviews exchanges between believers and nonbelievers. But, first, a definition of postsecularism will be suggested together with some critical reflection on the concept of religion. I will also discuss some inspiring ideas and theories of postsecularism from the last decade. I would like to suggest a comprehension of postsecularism as a kind of pluralism.

Abstract

For liberalism, values such as respect, reciprocity, and tolerance should frame cultural encounters in multicultural societies. However, it is easy to disregard that power differences and political domination also influence the cultural sphere and the relations between cultural groups. In this essay, I focus on some challenges for cultural pluralism. In relation to Indian political theorist Rajeev Bhargava, I discuss the meaning of cultural domination and epistemic injustice and their historical and moral implications. Bhargava argued that as a consequence of colonialism, “indigenous cultures” were inferiorized, marginalized, and anonymized. Although cultures are often changing due to external influences, I argue that epistemic injustice implies that a culture is forced to subjection, disrespected, and considered as inferior and that it threatens the dominated people’s epistemic framework, collective identity, and existential security. Finally, I refer to John Rawls’s theory of political liberalism as a constructive approach to avoid parochialism and Western cultural domination.